This past year-plus has been a resilient and hard fought one for so many. Obviously everyone dealing with everything going on with COVID and the pandemic, from the loss of life, to losing jobs, and so many suffering so much loss.
Like myself and my family, losing my father last year.
With this past Sunday, June 13, my 35th birthday, I reflect and I’m thankful like so many for a lot of the little things — like being alive, and for the first time since my father passed being able to watch White Sox baseball on my birthday.
This being the first White Sox game on my birthday without him makes it a little harder, too. For my 33rd birthday, when things were still normal, me, my Dad and younger brother went to the White Sox game versus the Yankees. They won, continuing a tradition of going to White Sox home games on my birthday — whether by myself, or with my Dad or any of the rest of my family or friends.
Seeing how hard-fought and resilient this White Sox team has been, now having the best record in all of baseball, has been a joy and pleasure to watch, especially with all the injuries this team has faced so far, from big-name starters like Eloy Jiménez and Luis Robert, or more recently, somewhat lesser names such as Michael Kopech and Nick Madrigal.
This team has had many players step up, including the unheralded Yermín Mercedes, with a slash line of .290/.348/.438, including a very hot, record-setting start to the season. Backups like Billy Hamilton and Danny Mendick have stepped up, too, with Mendick getting a hit in every game (aside from June 10) since replacing Madrigal in the lineup and at second base. Or even veteran Yasmani Grandal, getting a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the 10th of Wednesday’s 8-7 victory over the Rays.
Whether it be someone you’d count on (like Yaz) or someone unlikely (Mendick), this White Sox team truly has had the next man step up, in ways only a championship-caliber team does.
One of the biggest and most pleasant surprises for the White Sox has been Carlos Rodón. In his last start this past Sunday, the southpaw went seven solid innings, allowing just a run on a hit with two walks and nine strikeouts in a 4-1 victory after chasing a possible second no-hitter this season. Rodón’s 1.89 ERA and 6-2 record, with a 0.84 WHIP, 97 strikeouts and opponents hitting just .166 against him, is among the tops not only in the American League, but all of baseball. His comeback has been a pleasure to watch, after all the resiliency he has had to go through to get to this point in his career.
Players like Rodón and Mercedes tell stories of hard-work, fight and resiliency, one that we can all relate to. That’s the same thing that my dad instilled in me and my family, which is why even as much as I loved last year’s White Sox team, this year’s team is probably the most I’ve ever liked a South Side club since 2008. After taking two of three hard-fought games from Tampa Bay, it’s the first time since 2008 that the Sox have been 18 games over .500
Hopefully by the end of this year, this team will have a similar finish and final result as a different season: 2005.